Congressman wants ‘red tape’ cut to help Coast Guard

A California congressman is hoping to cut through some government red tape to fix a problem that is preventing the Coast Guard from using essential night-vision technology.
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A California congressman is hoping to cut through some government red tape to fix a problem that is preventing the Coast Guard from using essential night-vision technology.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) says he is maddened by the fact that Coast Guard helicopters are equipped with night-penetrating Electro-Optical Sensor Systems, but can’t use them because of a “quirk in the federal bureaucracy.”

The laser equipment could help the Coast Guard rescue stranded boaters, catch drug smugglers or even prevent terrorists from sneaking onto U.S. shores.

Unfortunately, though, it’s just sitting and “collecting dust,” according to Fox News, because the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security and its use of the equipment is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Other branches of the armed forces, which fall under the Defense Department, are able to use the technology, which converts even the faintest light into an electronic signal that instruments can read.

Hunter points out, however, that the Coast Guard is “basically performing a Department of Defense mission in the Caribbean … the routes that they cover are dangerous. These are routes where 5,000 pounds of drugs are smuggled on fast boats. If these smugglers can transport that amount of drugs, there’s no reason to think that this is not a serious national security issue.”

The congressman, a Marine Corps veteran who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to the FDA earlier this month hoping to see changes soon, according to a Coast Guard press release on the issue.

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